Have you heard the story about the Brigham Young quarterback? Yes, you probably have. You've probably heard many of them. But sit back because here's another. It might be the best yet.
The current model is Gifford Nielsen-nice and Jim McMahon-brash. He looks like a fullback and was recruited as a defensive back. He throws the football, plays tennis and eats and writes lefthanded—thus a recent feature story about him in Lefty magazine—but he shoots basketballs and plays golf righthanded. He's taking a beginning piano course at BYU because "I refuse to be musically ignorant." In the pocket he looks like Kenny Stabler, dancing on little cat feet and aiming quick darts over the middle, and he runs like Tony Dorsett once he's out of it.
His brother, Mike, who's on a Latter-Day Saints mission in Honduras, may be good enough to be the BYU quarterback next season. His father was so tough that when he played for the Cougars in the 1950s, he was called Grit. His great-great-great-grandfather was Brigham Young. The Brigham Young.
How good is he? "[BYU Coach] LaVell Edwards may not admit this," says Gil Brandt, the Dallas Cowboys' vice-president of player personnel, "but I think he's the best they've had there. And he's the most accurate passer I've ever seen. Period." Exclamation point.
The quarterback's best friend, meanwhile, has caught more passes (178) for more yards (2,484) than any tight end in college history. He also holds the tight-end record for most yards in a single game (259 against Utah in 1981). Further, with three more touchdown receptions he'll break the NCAA career mark (24) for tight ends in that department, too. Says Redskin General Manager Bobby Beathard, "He may not be the big blocking type you're looking for, but as a receiver he's got it all."
Their names are Steve Young and Gordon Hudson, respectively. No quarterback-tight end combo in recent years has worked so well for so long, not Mark Herrmann and Dave Young at Purdue (who combined for 67 completions in 1980), not Todd Dillon and Darren Long at Long Beach State (68 in '82), not even McMahon and Clay Brown at BYU (48 in '80). When Young and Hudson finish their college careers after the Holiday Bowl in December, in all likelihood they will have combined for more than 130 receptions in two years, making them arguably the best college quarterback-tight end tandem in history.
The only reason their final total won't be closer to 150 is that Hudson missed half the San Diego State game on Oct. 22 with a concussion, as well as half the Utah State game on Oct. 29 and all of last Saturday's 31-9 win over Texas-El Paso with sprained ligaments in his left knee. He's expected to play this week against Colorado State. Still, Hudson has 44 receptions this season. He caught 67 passes both as a sophomore, when McMahon was throwing to him, and last year, when Young was his quarterback.
As for Young, he leads the country in pass efficiency, the crazy-quilt NCAA statistic that's supposed to separate the best throwers from the dump-off artists. This year he has converted 251 of 359 passes (70%) for 3,323 yards, which conies out to 369.2 yards per game and 9.26 per pass attempt. He has thrown 25 TD passes and just eight interceptions. In 1982 Young hit an NCAA-record 22 straight throws over two games, and this year he completed an NCAA single-game-record 18 consecutive passes during a 46-28 victory over Air Force. When Young is finished, he'll nestle somewhere among the top 10 alltime most efficient passers, a category that's dominated by his predecessors at BYU.
Moreover, with 4.5 speed Young may be the country's premier running quarterback. An outstanding offensive line has helped—Young has been sacked only 16 times—but just as important has been his sense of when to stay in the pocket and when to scramble. His passing and running—he has netted 418 yards on the ground—have made him the nation's total offense leader by a ridiculous 118.7 yards per game with a 415.7-yard average. Without Nebraska Running Back Mike Rozier in the picture. Young would be as strong a Heisman candidate as anyone. Brandt, among others, considers Young or Rozier the likely No. 1 pick in the '84 draft
Tall (6'4") and rangy, with unstylishly short brown hair, Hudson could be on a Latter-Day Saints recruiting poster. He married his high school sweetheart, the former Mindy Carr, in July '82, and they live in an apartment off campus. Mindy is pregnant with the first of what they hope will be several children. Though serious about his role as young husband and soon-to-be father, Hudson is a lot looser about other things, such as his studies. "I just tend to get by on my natural smarts." says Hudson, who will probably graduate a semester late with a degree in physical education "I'm not proud of if that's just the way it is." As Dart of BYU's homecoming festivities before the New Mexico game Hudson finished first in a campus jalape�o pepper-eating contest by consuming 13.